Wake Up to the Light

I just got home from a blissful twenty-four hours off the grid. No cell phone reception, no wifi, no phone, no social media. 24 hours without alerts or pings or messages. 24 hours of peace & quiet, literally. 24 hours of space, physically, spiritually and emotionally. Turns out that 24 hours of real space and deep quiet is quite enough to leave you feeling refreshed and rested. (That said, I could have easily stayed for a week.)

Wake Up to the Light >> Life In Limbo

One unexpected delight of all this extra space was rediscovering the feeling of not knowing the time. It was such a joy to lose track of time while doing “nothing” with a small group of people, or by myself. We went for a long walk in the snow and watched the light fade from the sky. We watched the fire and tended it when it got low. We made snacks and dinner when we needed them. We drank water when we needed it. We had long conversations when we needed them. We read books when we wanted to. We journaled. We lingered.

And this morning, I woke up to the light coming in the window. It had snowed overnight, and the view from our bunk bed was like a postcard. Every single tiny branch had a little layer of snow: pristine and picturesque and perfect. What a treat, to let my body have the sleep it needed, and to let the light wake me up without an alarm.

I’m home now, and trying to hold on to the calm and quiet I felt while we were away. Maybe I won’t wake up to a postcard view every single day, but I think I can make things quieter, do things that help me lose track of time, and find ways – literally and metaphorically – to wake up to the light.

Recalibrating My Days

A couple weeks back, I wrote an Instagram post about remembering to go outside for a walk in the early evening, before the sun went down:

“Today I was working at my desk trying to rush and get stuff done before the weekend, but luckily took a pause and said to myself, if you don’t go outside now, it’ll be dark out and too late to go for a walk. So I went. And it was beautiful, and quiet, and there weren’t many people around, and the sky was gorgeous. And suddenly what I had been rushing to do didn’t seem so urgent.

Recalibrating My Days >> Life In Limbo

This idea has been with me for a long time – all the way back to when I had a “Don’t miss the moment” poster taped to my wall, and probably before that. I never want to look up and realize that I’ve missed all the sunshine, or get home from a party and have the yucky feeling like I wasn’t truly present for any of it, or that it’s only fun now that I’m reflecting on it after the fact.

This philosophy requires a lot of flexibility, creativity, and mindfulness, things that I am constantly working on developing for myself. I’m a person who likes routines, and can easily start to measure myself on how well I’m sticking to my (arbitrarily-established) routine on a daily basis. That night, rushing to get stuff done felt like the price I had to pay in order to enjoy my evening and relax, until I remembered that I am self-employed, I set my own schedule, and I can relax right now.

With this in mind, I’m making an effort to recalibrate my days to celebrate the change in seasons. Instead of getting all my work done before I go for my daily walk, I’m sticking my nature time right into the middle of my work day. This week, I’ve been going for a long leisurely walk right smack dab after lunch, soaking up the midday sunshine when it’s at its peak, instead of hoping to catch a few weak rays of it in the late afternoon.

Yesterday I went to the park near my house and laid down on a picnic table in the sun, cloud-watching and appreciating the light through the leaves on the giant trees. It felt “wrong” somehow to be doing this before I’d “earned it” (ugh @ myself sometimes, you know!?!), but it also felt so good. When I got back to my desk, I was able to be way more productive because I didn’t feel rushed, and I didn’t have to mourn the sun setting at 5:30PM before I’d had a chance to enjoy it properly. I’d enjoyed it already.

I know not everyone has the freedom to recalibrate their days to the extent that I do, but maybe you can walk on your lunch break. Maybe you can wake up earlier and sit quietly beside the window in the morning light. Maybe you can go outside for a five minute Vitamin D break.

As I try to embrace the change in seasons (so far, so good!), this tiny recalibration is making a big difference for me. How do you restructure your life as seasons change?

Thoughts for Winter

“November silently sneaks up on us, catching our senses by surprise. Outside, silvery grey shafts reveal a familiar landscape stripped of pretence. Behind closed doors, glowing amber fires shed light upon the real. Like a woman who has found her authenticity, November’s beauty radiates from within.” 

-Sarah Ban Breathnach

Thoughts for Winter >> Life In Limbo

November did sneak up on me, especially this year. It was a tremendous summer, one of my best yet, and the warm weather lingered well into Fall. It was only when I was on my daily walk on Saturday trying to catch a ray or two of sunshine when I realized that it was so cold my fingers were too stiff to type and my ears were numb. It seems like only yesterday that I was on a patio somewhere with my friends!

I am a person who really struggles with winter. I dislike the cold, play no winter sports, and hate how it gets dark outside so early. Reading the passage above, from the book Simple Abundance, was comforting in that it reminded me of the flip side of these dark months: we can use them to work on cultivating our inner, private lives. We can relish the warm light of our homes behind closed doors. We can respect the energy shift of this new season instead of fighting it.

This year, although apparently I have some kind of identity attachment to hating winter that I feel like clinging to, I am choosing differently. I choose to embrace these winter months.

Some practical resolutions for myself this season:

I will not complain about the cold. I will not complain about the darkness. I will not complain about the cold!

I will keep my lighter handy and try to light candles every day.

I will dress more warmly. I will invest in winter layers in order to dress more warmly.

I will go outside for a walk every day.

I will take lots of hot bubble baths.

I will take my daily vitamin D!

I will read books about loving winter.

I will up my hygge game at home as much as possible. I even started a Pinterest board to inspire me.

I will cuddle with my cat more often.

I will let myself take naps.

I will make cozy winter recipes and cozy winter drinks.

I will plan winter adventures despite the cold. I will not complain about the cold!

Do you have tips for embracing winter? Teach me your ways!! If you need me I’ll be over here reading this post and trying to become a Winter Person. And this post. And this one.

 

2017: Embrace

One Little Word 2017: Embrace >> Life In LimboOne of the ways that I try to bring more magic into my life is to choose a word or theme for each new year. It’s an idea I picked up from Elise Cripe via Ali Edwards, and 2017 will be my fifth time choosing a word. So far I’ve had reach in 2013, abundance in 2014, grace in 2015, and light in 2016. It makes me so happy to look back on each of them and think about the ways they did (or didn’t) come up for me throughout each of their respective years. I find this exercise so fun and interesting because there’s really no downside. Worst case: you forget you have a word (cough, 2015), and best case: you get a kick out of noticing your word everywhere you look and potentially have a new lens through which to see the world or help you to make decisions.

Like I said in my year in review post, light was my favourite word so far, right up there with abundance for me. It was fun that light is an actual physical phenomenon, so I could literally look for it out in the world, but I also noticed it in quotes, songs, and situations.

One Little Word 2017: Embrace >> Life In Limbo

This year, my word is embrace. Let me tell you what it means to me, and what I hope I’ll do more of this year:

  • Embrace others: As in, hug. As in, spend lots of time with the people that I love and cherish so much. Prioritize people! Say yes to quality time, and any chance to see my people. Hug them when I see them! Love them. I want to cultivate a sense of community this year in ways big and small, and spend my time and energy deepening my dearest connections.
  • Embrace the situation: Even in the few short weeks since choosing this word, I’ve been shocked at how many of my thoughts in any given situation are some iteration of “things would be better right now if they were like this…” or “I wish that person would be a little more like this…” or “maybe we should do this thing right now”. Basically, wishing things were different from how they actually are. I don’t think that striving to accept people or situations means becoming complacent, I think it means valuing acceptance over criticism; honouring people as they are over how I wish they might be acting; and sitting with it instead of forcing things to look, be, or play out a certain way. Just let it be the way it’s meant to be.
  • Embrace my everyday: Ooh this one makes me feel calmer and happier just saying it out loud. Because to embrace my everyday means I want to celebrate it, document it, love it exactly as it is. It means not devaluing my everyday just because it looks less pretty than someone’s Instagram account. It probably means checking other people’s Instagram accounts way less often. It means taking more photos and practicing gratitude for what I have. And most of all it means working to make my everyday as lovely, happy, cozy and special as I possibly can.
  • Embrace the season: I mean this one both literally and figuratively, as I am not much for winter. But I’m also talking about the season of life that I’m in: I’m single, in a new city, trying to make friends and make a life and make a career all at the same time. It’s a lot! It’s easy to want to skip ahead to some mythical time when “things will be more settled” and “things are more figured out” (spoiler alert: that time is never), so for me, embracing the season means being okay with the weird, awkward parts and the incredibly awesome parts all at the same time. I want to remember to get out there and find my tribe, settle into my community, and make the most out of this season because before I know it, it will be over. I mean this literally: when I lived in Korea and then Ecuador, I always felt like that season would last forever, but of course it didn’t, and now those times are behind me. You only get one shot to make it amazing! I want to make it amazing.
  • Embrace myself: I want to do the things that I really love and that make me happiest. I want to stop trying to be different or “better” than I am. Acceptance. I want to trust my gut (I’m sorry for all the times I haven’t listened to you, gut!) and let awesome things flow to me.

 

I think it’s going to be a pretty amazing year. My new hashtag, if you want to follow along, is going to be #embracethedayproject.

Happy 2017, everyone!